Saturday, 12 June 2010

Quality of Life Improvement 23: Arne Vodder

The work of one of our favorite Danish Modernists, Arne Vodder, is now back in production.

Great Dane Furniture has obtained the license to many of Vodder's most recognizable designs, which are, thankfully, being produced in Denmark by Danish cabinetmakers.

Arne Vodder (1926-2009) trained as an architect and was a student of one of our great heroes, Finn Juhl, and the influence of Juhl's cool, un-dogmatic approach to design is immediately apparent in Vodder's work. After training with Juhl, Vodder then worked with the venerable Danish furniture-makers Fritz Hansen and, most famously, with Sibast Møbler.

It was with Sibast that he created his most famous pieces of furniture, almost always with his trademark: flawless construction of rosewood or teak, sensuous curving handles and judicious, often unexpected, use of color. In particular, Vodder is remembered for his credenzas and desks produced by Sibasts' cabinetmakers in the 1950s through 1970s. But while his designs remained popular in Scandinavia, the changing tastes of the non-Nordic consumer and the growing scarcity of tropical woods in the 1970s meant the end of production of his designs for Sibast.

For the last 40 years, Vodder's work has been available in ever-decreasing quantity only at auction or from dealers of vintage furniture. Now, Great Dane Furniture has reissued some of his best-known furniture, including two dining tables, two chests of drawers, a bedside table, a hall table and a coffee table, with all production now in European oak and American walnut.

We always love a back-story, and this one is great. Apparently, the proprietors of Great Dane Furniture befriended Arne Vodder on one of their buying trips to Denmark, and not only did Vodder agree to allow his furniture to be reproduced by Great Dane starting in 2009, but the production process of was overseen by the architect himself.

"Arne said the project would keep him alive for a few more days and it did, but sadly on the evening of December 27th* he passed away," Great Dane's owners said. "The truth is it will keep him alive forever in design history. We have lost a great talent and a true friend."
*redactor's note: December 27, 2009.

The Arne Vodder range of reissued classics is available from Great Dane Furniture, 116 Commercial Road, Prahran, Victoria, 3181, Australia, (03) 9510 6111

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